- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion Books; Reprint edition (September 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 078688682X
- ISBN-13: 978-0786886821
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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The Rainbow Singer
Top Customer Reviews
Essentially told in the voice of a 14 year old, heavy metal loving child of the 80s, The Rainbow Singer is one man's reflection on what his life was like as a youth. From his present-day jail cell in Wisconsin, Wil Carson (our main character and narrator), tells the story of a one month long church-sponsored multi-faith trip from Ulster to America that he took part in when he was 14. Designed to bring Irish Catholic and Protestant youth together, the trip puts Wil in the strange and confusing world of Milwaukee.
The story relates the tension between Catholic and Protestant students, romantic awakening and a brush with homosexuality. In short, The Rainbow Singer is a coming of age memoir set against the backdrop of the Irish Troubles. Where it succeeds is in the quirky and sometimes funny perspective of a headbanging teen. But where The Rainbow Singer fails is, sadly, more noticable.
The book is a very fast read because the voice of Wil is somewhat unsophisticated. This is good in that it is true to his character, but it makes the book read like a YA novel. This, again, would be fine if the book was aimed at a youth audence, but the large amount of violence, swearing and sex in the novel prove taht it is definitely an adult book. The Rainbow Singer took about 1.5 hours to read and was not developed enough to be truly satisfying, nor is it light enough to be fun and airy.
All in all, The Rainbow Singer could have been an interesting look at a teenager's perspective on Catholic/Protestant tensions in Ulster, but ended up being toothless and bland.
He's fascinated with American movies and heavy metal music and jumps at the unexpected chance to spend a month in the "relative peace of the unwild midwest USA." The catch - the scot-free vacation in the States is courtesy of Project Ulster, a joint effort between the local Protestant and Catholic churches to show a group of unimpressed teenagers (ten Protestants and ten Catholics) that there is a path other than the familiar one of violence, prejudice and hate.
From the very beginning of the trip Wil is persecuted mercilessly by two Catholic boys, Seamus and Peter. He makes a halfhearted effort to resist the fighting, antagonistic urges inside, instead throwing himself headlong into the awkward pursuit of Teresa, one of the Catholic girls.
A series of run-ins with the Catholic boys on Project outings makes the situation increasingly more volatile. But it's not until he's encouraged by his fifteen year-old American host and friend, Derry "the Hulk," that Wil begins to lose control and the "tit-for-tat" feuding spirals into an inevitable act of horrifying violence.
The very heart of terrorism is laid open by the unique, engaging voice of Wil Carson. Simon Kerr has brought to life an intense, sharp-witted boy you'll want to hate, but can't help but love. The Rainbow Singer is a graphic but necessary read.
This novel is so pertinent to the anniversary of September 11 - because it really explores what makes hatred, especially hatred that lasts for centuries. So while the target audience is not Young Adults, it certainly wouldn't hurt them to read the novel.